Models were greeted at the door by my husband, Dan. They were welcomed and in keeping with the campy spirit of the party given "I revealed myself at the Incognito Project" T-shirts. Everyone seemed to agree the T-shirts were a fun memento.
After being introduced to the other attendees, and offered refreshments they were directed to Costumes and Make-up, headed up by my daughter-in-law, Amy, SCAD theater alumni.
My son, Kyle, a SCAD writing alumni, interviewed the guests about their choice of costuming, documenting their ideas and comments for eventual publication. Also to be included in the book are these photographs and more that are the work of professional Alabama photographer, Christina Lopez, who was hired to document the project.
Downstairs in the studio, my daughter Carly, an illustration major at SCAD, played the role of Key-Grip, moving lights, adjusting costumes and suggesting poses, as I photographed the models.
The models had been assigned a sitting time and generally came early and stayed afterward to socialize. After a few sittings I'd download the images to my iMac in our kitchen up-stairs, where everyone looked on to see their photos and those of the other party-goers.
Images from each sitting were added to a slide show on my iMac. They joined images from previous photo sessions of my family that will also be included in the final paintings. The slide show played continually throughout the day with an incognito themed sound track.
The last few weeks have been a conversation filled, collaborative effort as participants planned costumes for their photo session. All this interaction was exactly as rewarding for me as I thought it would be!
Models told me they had dreamed about it and had conversations with their friends and families about it.
Some chose a costume for the role they always wanted to play but never had the chance. This was at times a bittersweet day for them and the fact that they were willing to share it with me made it all the more poignant.
For some the costumes were wonderful daydreams and a pleasant respite from the daily grind.
Some knew immediately what they should dress as while others agonized because they had too many ideas.
A few were content to let me suggest a persona for them, intrigued by how I envisioned them. When a model asked for a second suggestion, I'd pry a little deeper, go back to the drawing board and come back with another idea, that was, as a result of their input, always better.
Normally camera shy friends agreed to be photographed; it seems wearing a costume made it bearable and even fun.
Each interaction was a delight me! How much fun I had as their ultimate costume was revealed while we brainstormed together!
This was also a challenge as I learned to let go a little. Normally I'm in total control of what goes into each painting but now I had asked people to decide what their painting would be. How refreshing and interesting to watch as each worked to solve this problem and to see myself respond to their suggestions.
Many thanks for all the collaborative effort go to my family, all my model friends, Christina Lopez-photographer ( www.clopezphoto.wordpress.com ) and Mary Gurney at Playhouse who rented us a car load of costumes!
As much work as it was getting this project together most of the work lies in the year ahead as I transform these provocative photographs into paintings. A show of the 25-30 paintings will be in the fall of 2011, presented in Birmingham, Alabama. Date and place to be announced.